We slept in — haven’t really felt jet lagged, thankfully. But hadn’t slept in a while! So popped out of bed at 915, due to be at St Michel fountain in the Latin Quarter at 1015 for a bike tour. I totally recommend doing a bike tour in a big city, as it’s a great way to get an overview, learn some details/secrets/suggestions, and you cover tons of ground without wearing out your feet (although my knees didn’t dig the biking, but it was worth it). We looked like crazy tourists even to the other tourists: no jackets for us, as it felt tropical at cloudy and low 60s to us winter-hardened Minnesotans. Dana was our tour guide for our Blue Fox bike ride (https://www.bluefox.travel/paris/) . We went around Notre Dame, along the Seine past the d’Orsay (on our list to see today), near Hotel des Invalides, by the Eiffel tower (can I just say catching glimpses of it for the first time was fricking rad?), back on the other side of the Seine to the Place de la Concord (seeing the Obelsik in my 7th grade French textbook was what made me fall in love with the idea of Paris), to the Louvre and back to the Ile de Cite.
Picked up our 6 day Musee Pass, and headed to Sainte-Chapelle. I was worried that it wouldn’t be as breath-taking as advertised, as it was a drizzly day, but it was glorious. This stained glass masterpiece is not to be missed. Then we needed a wine break, so went to Bar du Caveaux (http://www.barducaveau.fr/), a tiny little spot in a charming triangle (not even a square). Fortified by wine bread and cheese, we visited the Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette and thousands of other prisoners awaited their fate during the Revolution, http://www.paris-conciergerie.fr/) and the Crypte Archeologique (pieces of the original France, with arufacts walls, coins, etc http://www.crypte.paris.fr/).
Had hoped to hit Notre Dame but line was too long and we were pressed for time. Hopped onto the metro, showered and relaxed, then it was off to dinner.
Amabassade d’Auvergne was our destination ( http://ambassade-auvergne.fr/fr/). I had learned about aligot in a recent book, and when I heard they served it at this restauarnt I was all in. It’s like the ultimate cheesy mashed potatoes — so smooth and elastic — think stringy mozzarella, but with potatoes. Damn that was good. I had mine with truffle, and beef steak and marrow bone. HWSNBN had his plain with sausage. For dessert it was pear poached in red wine. Le yum!
Wandered back through the Montorgueil in the misty rain, and stopped again at Hoppy Corner for a beer before bed. Place was, well, hopping. Then we hopped off to bed!
The plan for Friday: Latin Quarter, St Germain, wine tasting and the Louvre!
It’s hard to know how to count the days of a vacation when you leave on one day but arrive on the next…got into Paris yesterday about 4pm, so I guess we have technically been here less than a day? So far so good, with only minor glitches.
MSP airport was totally empty, which was weird. We arrived with HWSNBN on the defensive though, and irritated because for some reason Delta wouldn’t recognize him (don’t you know who I am?) online and wouldn’t give us free bags or pre-check. So had to line up and ask — and they were so helpful (a theme so far on this trip). Made sure we were getting our miles, and fixed everything up so his feathers were unruffled. Flew through security (thank you Clear) and settled into a bar seat. Beer in hand, we said goodbye to to do lists and hello to “what should we do next?” lists.
Tried to sleep but failed completely (fitbit clocked me at 1 1/2 hours total). I seriously think I am getting restless leg syndrome, and a tight airplane seat for 7 plus hours did not help.
Our Amsterdam layover was pretty short, so we were hustlin’ not shufflin’ from gate to gate. Did a quick self transfer, and it said we had missed our flight — which wasn’t scheduled to take off for an hour and a half. A quick check with the friendly airplane staff (in their cute bright blue uniforms) and they smiled at us and said you are fine! Your gate is right over here! Another grumpy HWSNBN moment suppressed.
He did keep trying to be grumpy — every line made him irritated. He kept looking at his phone, cantankerously commenting on how no one would leave him alone (I reminded him that if he didn’t look at it he wouldn’t know, to which I received the patented HWSNBN side eye.)
The airport in Master dam reminded me of an Ikea store. Every time I tried to read a sign I felt the urge to grab an allen wrench. Other highlights: a darling tea shop where you sat in replica Delft tea cups (I wondered if they spun a la Disneyland), a Bombay Sapphire booth that made me think of mom, and a tulip shop that made me giddy with thoughts of spring (yes, I know, supposed to get several more inches of snow in Minnesota this weekend. But a girl can dream!
The flight to Paris was 45 minutes — passed the time trying to read French magazines and listening to Rick Steves’ recordings. AND THEN WE WERE IN FRANCE!
Within minutes I saw someone in a beret, so that was cool. Bags in hand, we passed through the easiest customs check everywhere — no looking at passports, just a quick Bon Jour! Where are you from and how long will you be staying and we were on our way to the metro. The chill attitude toward security in this country is ironically juxtaposed with all the army folks toting automatic weapons. Today my bag was going through a security check, but the guy was chatting the whole time with the next person in line. Never even looked at the screen.
Some advice: I asked to buy a week long metro pass. I got one, but it started 2 days prior. So I am guessing they run Mon-Mon, but I think we were only charged for 5 days. I think. And it was totally reasonable — like $25 for unlimited metro rides. But if you are coming here and plan to get a metro pass, bring a passport picture, as you have to have one on your pass. Had to wait in line a bit at a kiosk to obtain one — and let me tell ya: you do NOT want a photo of yourself after being up all night on two planes and haven’t slept for about 30 hours…
We helped an English family who didn’t have change for the machine, then HWSNBN was thrilled to be able to use is Spanish to help a Spanish couple understand how the passes work. (he keeps trying to speak Spanish instead of French. If we thought the Italians didn’t appreciate years ago, the French find it even less amusing).
I had a handy-dandy metro app that gets us easily from point A to B –when the trains are working. We hit a glitch when you couldn’t transfer where we wanted to. And oh yeah: no elevators or escalators in most metros, so lugging big suitcases kinda sucked.
We were late to check in to our apartment, so the guy meeting us told us he’d be back after helping another client. HWSNBN had serious frown lines at this point, so I suggested a bar we had passed. It was one that I had already learned about during my trip research — Hoppy Corner( https://www.facebook.com/hoppycorner/) Had a great IPA called the Denis Hopper (get it?). Before we finished that the bartender brought is over a sample of another beer, and a bowl of barley (that was different) to snack on. People told me service here sucked: I have yet to see that. very bar/restaurant we have been to they have brought s extras without us mentioning it — a taste of this, a sample of that. Very cool.
(BTW: the man bun is flourishing in Paris. Thought they were ahead of the times stylistically, but guess not!)
Finally got into our apartment, a one bed, 1 1/2 bath place in the 2nd Arrondisement. Comfy bed, old creaky floors, what more can a gal want (a second electrical adapter, because someone only brought one…) http://www.parislondonapartments.com/rentals/allrentals/paris-2nd-arrondissement-aboukir/
Quick shower and change and we were off to dinner. We ate at a neighborhood place called Bistrot Richelieu (http://bistrotrichelieu.com/en/home/). First for me was onion soup (funny, they don’t call it French here…), then a duck breast in plum sauce while HWSNBN had roasted lamb. So yummy!
Then we wandered…this city is stunning. It is everything I wanted it to be — people carrying baguettes, wrought iron balconies on vanilla covered balconies, saucy dogs being walked by people in scarves, a museum on every corner…
Exhausted as we were, I couldn’t crash yet. I pointed out another bar/restaurant I had researched, right next door to our place, the Lockwood. (http://www.lockwoodparis.com/bar/) Gotta love a plce that hangs it’s liquor bottles from the ceiling with bungee cords. (HWSNBN liked it for it’s full page of gin and tonic options). I had a funky version of a Margarita, made with mezcal. I could drink that all day — smoky, refreshing, delicious. Chatted with the waitress about it and she brought us a sample of just the mezcal — that was it for us. We were done.
Slept well that night!
I was going to talk about today, but I have to go get ready for dinner. Guess it’ll have to wait for another day — bon soir!